Taking and organizing notes is one most important aspects of your learning and academic success. This article will help you to find the best note taking apps available online.
If you’re a serious note-taker, you know that having an iPad and an Apple Pencil isn’t enough.
The app you use to take notes can have a big impact on the quality of your notes. But with hundreds of apps to choose from, not all are created equal.
There are many note taking apps available online like notability, GoodNotes5, apple notebook, LIquid Text, Margin Note3, Nebo, and so on. We’ve listed all the note taking apps for different platforms like IOS, Android, and Microsoft.
Take Notes: Handwritten or Typed?
There is no “right” way to write a note, but one of the early decisions you need to make is whether to handwrite or type a note.
What we have seen and studied suggests that taking notes by hand is better than using a laptop. Like a pen and paper, handwriting takes time, but you will have more time to process what you are doing. Keyboard input is more efficient , but many notes created this way simply lack the stickiness associated with traditional methods.
Some apps on the list have keyboard-based features such as Nebo and Apple Notes, but here we are looking at these apps through the lens of a noted writer who plans to handwrite notes.
However, keep in mind that taking notes is essential when trying to learn something. Effective notes have been shown to improve memory, enhance learning sessions, boost productivity in the study and lead to academic success.
Find the best app and note-taking system for you and keep using it! Let’s take a closer look at 8 of the best note taking apps on the App Store.
With thousands of positive reviews over the years, Notability has endured the challenges of being a note-taker.
This app is best known for its unique voice synchronization feature. This feature allows you to record audio and sync it with handwritten notes while writing. During playback, the audio syncs with the note so you can hear what you were hearing when you created the note.
In late 2021, Notability changed the provision from a one-time purchase app to a free plan with a premium subscription option. Therefore, if you are looking for a great app that does not require a cash investment, we recommend that you consider Notability.
- Audio recordings are synced as you write your notes, so you can see what you’ve written as you play it back.
- The Favorites Toolbar makes it easy to create and save your favorite tools for quick and easy reuse.
- Math Transformation (Premium Only) allows you to convert handwritten calculations into common mathematical formulas.
- There are no iCloud syncing or backups on the free plan, which puts note-takers who don’t upgrade at risk.
- Note editing is limited on the free plan (reset monthly), so hardcore note takers may not be able to take notes without upgrading.
- Limited organizational tools force users into a note-taking style that feels constrained or inadequate. There is no favorites toolbar, which can make it difficult to find valuable notes even if they are marked as favorites.
Pricing: Free plan available. The premium plan is $14.99/year.
Rating: Attention is currently rated 4.6 stars out of 5 on the App Store and has over 13,000 reviews.
Platforms: Available for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
GoodNotes5 powers note-takers around the world. This app has everything you need to take notes, compose music, and markup PDFs.
One of the biggest differentiators between GoodNotes and its competitors is its wealth of organizational tools. By default, GoodNotes creates notebooks where you can store everything.
This is fundamentally different from tools like Notability and Apple Notes. With these tools, the ability to organize is somewhat limited by the software.
So, what are the drawbacks?
Ultimately, GoodNotes doesn’t have many drawbacks, but the ability to record audio is a very important feature that this app lacks compared to Notability and other apps.
- Notebook creation tools offer an unprecedented level of customization for notebooks and notes.
- Infinite Nested Storage allows users to store folders within folders and create an organizational structure to suit their needs.
- Find a note, document, or page in seconds in one place with the Favorites tab.
- No audio recording means that you can rely on your notes alone to study for the test unless you use other recording tools.
- Text conversion is cumbersome and unwieldy.
- This works well, but converting handwritten text to typed text is a tedious process.
- No favorites toolbar means you have to reformat your tools every time you select or change them.
- The app saves some settings like pen width and color, but resetting the tool feels more complicated than it needs to be.
Pricing: Limited free plan available. His one-time purchase for $7.99 on the full version App Store.
Rating: The GoodNotes 5 app currently has a 4.8-star rating based on over 45,000 total reviews.
Platforms: Available for iPad, iPhone, and Mac. GoodNotes is most often compared to Notability, and the two apps have been in friendly rivalry for years. Read on for a detailed comparison of both apps.
3. Apple notebook
Believe it or not, Apple Notes has been around since the beginning. This app was first released in 2007 on the first version of iOS. Originally, it was a mobile version of the Notes app that was (and still is) an integral part of the Mac operating system.
As a note-taking app, Apple Notes has come a long way. Like most other note-taking apps, it comes with a writing instrument (pencil), highlighter, eraser, lasso selector, and ruler. Everything is placed in a toolbar that you can move around as needed.
Overall, Apple Notes lacks the flexibility found in most of the other note-taking apps listed here, but it’s still an impressive tool, especially for casual note-taking.
- Natively supports handwriting and typing on the same page using a variety of inputs including fingers, on-screen keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Apple keyboard.
- Allows shading when drawing with Apple Pencil. Tilt your Apple Pencil to enable shading. Press harder for a more intense shading effect.
- Recognize data such as handwritten phone numbers, dates, and addresses. Enable other recognized text options.
- Native iCloud sync on all Apple devices.
- It lacks many customization features, such as the ability to customize note backgrounds, create templates, create deeply nested organizational structures, etc.
- There is no built-in syncing for non-iCloud storage. If you want to back up your notes to Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box, this is a bit more work, but it’s not as easy as flipping a switch.
- Limited PDF annotation and markup capabilities require these tasks to be performed elsewhere
Reviews: Apple Notes is currently rated 3.6 stars and has over 1,100 reviews.
Platforms: Available for iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac.
4. Liquid text
Unlike traditional note-taking apps that provide blank pages to jot down notes, Liquid Text is a learning and research tool designed to help you analyze PDFs and other documents.
This note-taking approach is more researched, but Liquid Text offers a variety of tools not found in most other apps, so it’s a mistake for anyone looking through the documentation for important details and insights.
An infinite workspace allows for neat collections of excerpts, comments, and handwritten notes.
By adding multiple documents to her single workspace, users can create projects around a topic or idea to bring together related research.
A built-in web browser makes importing web pages as PDFs quick and easy. The ability to compress and decompress documents during investigation makes analyzing and comparing important details much easier.
Snippets and text can easily get lost in your workspace. With infinite workspaces, snippets can be misplaced or forgotten if not organized. Workspaces often feel cramped no matter how you set them up. Not for everyone. If you’re not doing a large research project, this app probably isn’t for you.
Price: Free plan available. Pro is $29.99 (one-time purchase per platform). LIVE is $7.99/month. LIVE Enhanced for $9.99/month. Both LIVE and LIVE Enhanced are cloud-based subscriptions that cover Liquid Text on all devices
Rating: Liquid Text is currently rated 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 4,100 reviews.
Platforms: Available for iPad, Mac, and Windows 10.
5. Margin Note 3
Margin Note is similar to Liquid Text (introduced above) in terms of functionality and behavior.
As a research tool, Margin Note allows you to open documents in a digital workspace, highlight and annotate PDFs, and select text excerpts.
However, if Liquid Text focuses on taking handwritten notes to markup documents (Margin Note does all this), the software can cut notes, create index cards and mind maps, and provide research overviews. You can also create it.
- All notes can be edited and annotated, so you can add context to the excerpt and set it aside.
- Flashcard Review allows you to quickly review your notes and study for the exam.
- The automatic mind map creation tool allows you to organize your excerpts without a lot of drag and drop.
- Different display modes and settings can be confusing. While convenient, it’s easy to get lost while navigating and struggle to pick up where you left off.
- Too many features make the learning curve steep. Automated mind mapping tools can be difficult to set up.
- Mind maps are based on a table of contents, so some foresight should be taken when structuring your notes.
Price: Free (read-only) version available. Full version $12.99
Upgrade: OCR Pro for $1/month or $9.50/year.
Rating: Margin Note 3 is currently rated 4.7 out of 5 stars from 3,700 reviews.
Platforms: Available for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.
While apps like GoodNotes and Notability emphasize (and most stick to) the idea of handwritten notes, Nebo seeks to merge handwritten concepts and text into a notebook. Like any other app on the market, the freeform page lets you draw freely, but it’s the app’s default page that really starts to shine.
All default pages are lined sheets that the user can write on with his Apple Pencil or keyboard. If you choose to handwrite your content, Nebo will show you how your handwriting is converted to text in real time.
- Combining handwriting and text is an interesting concept that other apps have hinted at, but Nebo actually embraces this feature.
- Handwriting and math conversion is second to none and both features are included at no extra charge. It works best when you have both freeform and lined pages.
- The ability to edit typed text with a stylus gives you even more flexibility when editing, correcting or reformatting text.
- Lack of templates, layouts, and other custom formatting found in apps like GoodNotes, Notability, and Note shelf.
- Formatting can be a hassle. You can drag boxes to adjust text alignment, but fiddling with the indent tools to get the text right within the box (or on the page) can be tedious.
- Freeform pages feel inferior to their competitors. If you only focus on handwriting, the app falls a little short in terms of features.
Price: Free version available. The Essentials package is $ 2. The connection package is $ 5. The PDF package is $ 4. Note: Packs are sold separately or can be purchased as packs for $ 8.00.
Rating: Nebo is currently rated 4.6 out of 5 out of more than 12,000 reviews.
Platform: Available for iPad, Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS.
7. Notes shelf
Note shelf is a great compromise between GoodNotes and Notability. Here you will find all the tools you need to take great notes on your iPad or Android device.
The interface provides a streamlined, easy-to-navigate experience with a wealth of customization features, from page templates and notebook covers to different pen types and tool colors and sizes.
Advanced customization options such as the following:
- A variety of page templates, notebook covers, and tools allow you to create notes creatively. The zoom box has a tool interface on the zoom bar that allows you to switch tools quickly and easily in this mode.
- The Favorites toolbar allows you to save different pen types and size combinations for later use.
- Multi-device compatibility allows this app to be used on all Mac devices (including Apple Watch) and Android devices.
The resizing issue blurs the lines, which is not an issue with other major note-taking apps.
- No free version. Note shelf does not offer a free trial, so you cannot try it before you buy.
- Reorganizing notes can be a bit tedious, as moving notes is not an easy process. Not cross-platform compatible.
- The app has its Android and iOS versions, but the two do not communicate with each other. You can share notes between different Apple products (iPad, iPhone, Watch), but you can’t send notes from your iPad to your Android tablet.
Price: $ 9.99 on the App Store. $ 4.99 on the Google Play Store.
Ratings: Note shelf currently has 4.5 out of 5 stars on the App Store, 525 reviews, and 3.3 out of 5 on the Google Play Store, with over 10,500 reviews.
Platform: Available for iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Android.
8 Notepad +
Another great choice for visual learning, Notepad + is great for sketching, drawing, or handwriting notes.
The app aims to create fun and unique notes, such as dragging and dropping images in any file format into the notes, using different fonts and colors for the text you type, and symbols and pictograms can be added.
- Bring your notes to life with funny symbols, shapes, and emojis. Customizable text options like different fonts and colors let you get creative with the text you enter.
- Multiple file types can be imported, so you can annotate photos, PDF, Excel, Keynote, and Numbers files.
- The Blur Tool is a unique feature that allows you to hide sensitive data.
- The cost is higher than most other apps and may not be worth it if you don’t need all the extra features.
- Limited to iPad OS only. This app cannot be used on other devices.
- Limited tool options. You can change the size and color of the Pen tool, but you can only use one type of pen.
Price: Free version available. The Pro version is $19.99.
Rating: Notepad+ is currently rated 4.6 out of 5 stars from over 6,200 reviews on the App Store.
Platform: Only available on iPad.